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Watson B. Smith Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-3324

This collection houses four letters that Watson B. Smith wrote to his family in Michigan from East Tennessee during August and September of 1863. In them, he discusses the Knoxville Campaign, battles with Confederate troops and guerillas, and dealings with the civilian population, which was mostly (but not entirely) sympathetic to the Union. He also discusses his duties in headquarters, including his temporary appointment as aide-de-camp. Several letters written to and from captured Confederate officers were enclosed in Smith's letter to his sister, Mary Narcissa Smith.

Dates

  • 1863 June 28-September 17, undated

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

0.1 Linear Feet

Abstract

This collection houses four letters that Watson B. Smith wrote to his family in Michigan from East Tennessee during August and September of 1863. In them, he discusses the Knoxville Campaign, battles with Confederate troops and guerillas, and dealings with the civilian population, which was mostly (but not entirely) sympathetic to the Union. He also discusses his duties in headquarters, including his temporary appointment as aide-de-camp. Several letters written to and from captured Confederate officers were enclosed in Smith's letter to his sister, Mary Narcissa Smith.

Biographical/Historical Note

Watson B. Smith was born to Rollin Coleman and Mary Amanda (Birchard) Smith in Vermont on October 2, 1837. He was the second of five children: Mary Narcissa (born 1835), Rollin Burnham (born 1843), Ellen Amanda (born 1850), and Howard B. (born 1852). Watson Smith enlisted in the Union Army as a Commissary Sergeant in Company C of the 8th Michigan Cavalry Regiment on August 27, 1862. He was promoted multiple times: to Lieutenant on November 6, 1862; to Acting Adjutant General on October 29, 1863; to Captain on April 15, 1864; to Major on November 14, 1864; to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel on March 13, 1865; and finally to Brevet Colonel on September 22, 1865. He was discharged in Detroit on October 6, 1865

After the war ended, Smith returned to his family, which had relocated to Omaha, Nebraska. He married Frances Reid Coon in Omaha on December 15, 1869 and the couple had one known child, Watson B. Smith Jr. Watson Smith Sr. later became a Clerk in the U. S. Circuit Court and was murdered on November 5, 1881 over his support for a blue law that would force saloons to pay a $1,000 dollar license fee and close on Sunday.

It should be noted that several sources give Watson B. Smith's name as Watson Richard Smith. The middle initial B has here been accepted as authoritative due to its predominance in primary and contemporary newspaper accounts.

Arrangement

Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

This collection is property of the Special Collections.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480